MD: Anne Arundel Bungling Medical Marijuana Relief

Photo Credit: Jen Rynda

The line was orderly. The patrons were courteous and polite.

White males over the age of 40 were the dominant demographic of the 11 folks in line waiting for Green Point Wellness to open Thursday morning. Some arrived wearing jeans. Others looked like they were headed to a boardroom meeting.

The line formed about 10:50 outside the Linthicum medical marijuana dispensary. The doors opened at 11.

The group of nine white and two black patrons didn’t resemble the hardened criminals some medical marijuana opponents predicted would be drawn to legal dispensaries. Passers-by can’t easily distinguish the facility’s business. Its neighbors include an Italian restaurant, a hotel and an automotive repair shop.

Heck, one sweet senior brought doughnuts for Green Point Wellness employees. She said she uses medicinal marijuana to ease pain associated with a serious leg injury. She said the dispensary’s staff guides her to the products that address her pain.

This is the reality of the medical marijuana industry. Maryland was late to the game — approving it in 2013 — but its regulations ensure we avoid the Wild West climate Colorado and California have experienced. Green Point Wellness owner Tony Toskov said he’s visited Colorado dozens of times and doesn’t want Maryland to have a dispensary-on-every-corner mentality.

That’s fair.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of the medical aspect of this industry.

Green Point’s operation — which opened Feb. 12 — exemplifies the benefits of medical marijuana. While skeptics predicted the industry would be a gateway to drug dealing and fretted over an onslaught of crime, none of the Chicken Little scenarios materialized. Green Point is Anne Arundel County’s lone medical marijuana dispensary.

Instead, we see folks accessing products that help them with their bouts with cancer. Others use them to control seizures or fend off arthritis or hip pain.

Toskov said that to his own amazement he found that 70 percent of his customers are seniors and 20 percent are veterans. Millennials make up about 10 percent of his customer base. He said his business is growing about 20 percent per week.

These are real people coping with real medical conditions. Toskov points to the family that got 10 good days with their dying father thanks to medical marijuana. While he was on morphine, the father was essentially comatose and nonresponsive.

With the aid of medical marijuana, the father was lucid and able to spend quality time with his family in his final days.

These are the folks the county is denying relief with its byzantine and purposefully restrictive laws regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. On Friday, the county announced it would not grant a variance to an applicant seeking to open a dispensary near Pasadena.

Seems the proposed site is not near a busy enough road.

Gaming the system so entrepreneurs are essentially put out of business before they start is bad business. It’s also disingenuous.

If the county wants to ban medical marijuana, just do it. Stop playing games. Have the courage to be honest.

County Executive Steve Schuh, who says he is OK with medical marijuana to treat chronic pain, is launching a task force this week to review county laws governing zoning restrictions of dispensaries.

What a sorry state of leadership. Schuh called for banning medical marijuana in the county in September 2015. A month later, he backtracked.

He’s now passing the election-year buck with a task force. It’s been five years since the state legalized medical marijuana. Schuh has been an elected official the entire time and county executive more than three years.

If he needs research, we suggest spending time in line with the folks at Green Point. Hear their stories of pain and relief. Then, remove the roadblocks for opening more dispensaries.

It’s the least you can do when all your other objections have gone up in smoke.